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'It could be a bumpy ride:' N.W.T. braces for another busy wildfire season

A fire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service says the Northwest Territories is in for yet another busy wildfire season this spring.

Last time there was an El Nino winter, close to 1.5 million hectares burned

Lindsay Bell took this photo of the Paradise Complex fire south of Hay River, N.W.T., last summer. Forest fire expert Kerry Anderson says he expects the territory will see an above-average number of forest fires in April, May and June. (submitted by Lindsay Bell)

A fire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service says the Northwest Territories is in for yet another busy wildfire season this spring.

Kerry Anderson spoke with Northbeat's Randy Henderson Wednesday, and said an El Nino ocean current effect in the Pacific made for a warm dry winter in the N.W.T. He expects the territory will see an above-average number of forest fires in April, May and June.

"We are a little bit worried about that," he said.

Kerry Anderson, a fire research officer with the Canadian Forest Service, says the Northwest Territories is in for yet another busy wildfire season this spring. (CBC)

"The last time we had an El Nino event was in 1998 and that was one of the highest amounts of area burned in the last 20 years. So it could be a bumpy ride here for the next couple of months."

In 1998, wildfires burned close to 1.5 million hectares in N.W.T.

Wildfires are already raging this year south of the border in Alberta and B.C.

Anderson said a La Nina ocean current — the opposite of an El Nino — is expected this summer and should result in cooler, moister weather over western and northern Canada.

"We are expecting that following this very aggressive fire season it will probably settle down sometime in June, perhaps July, into more of a regular fire season."

2014 was the Northwest Territories' worst forest fire season on record, with 385 fires burning 3.5 million hectares and costing $56.1 million to control. 

A map showing wildfire danger in Canada as of April 20. (Natural Resources Canada)

with files from Northbeat

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